Israel Adesanya stylebends through an interview. Source - File.
2020 New Zealand sportsman of the year Israel Adesanya revealed at last nights’ Halberg Awards, that before his recent UFC middleweight title fight, he visited Ōrākei marae.
“I implore everyone, just go and have a look, they’ll welcome you with open arms,” Adesanya says.
The Nigerian native moved to Aotearoa with his family at age 10. Since then, he lived in Rotorua, Whanganui, and Auckland. While the ‘Last Stylebender’ is no stranger to marae, he explained, that since moving to Auckland, he had not visited one in a while. Adesanya commented on the difference, between Rotorua and Aotearoas' largest city.
“When I was living in Rotoz [Rotorua] you see Māori culture everywhere.
“I didn’t even realise it [Ōrākei marae] was there, that’s like a hidden gem of Auckland.”
The King in the Ring, Glory and UFC champion shared his belief that Aotearoa is a country of warriors and that there is a resurgence of culture happening here, quoting Ihumatao as an example.
Israel Adesanya is part of the City Kickboxing stable, where he trains alongside Māori UFC gladiators Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker (Ngāti Maniapoto), Shane Young (Ngāti Kahungunu), and James Kaiwhare 'Don't Blink' Kara-France. Their coach, Eugene Bareman was one of the 2020 Halberg Award nominees for Coach of the Year, which was won by Dame Noeline Taurua.
MMA fans all over the world are looking forward to UFC 248 on 7 March, where the Adesanya is scheduled to go native against Yoel Romero.